FDA launches new strategy for foods and animal medicine

Apr 23, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today released a final strategic plan for its foods and veterinary medicine program designed to help officials set priorities over the next 4 years.

The 29-page plan covers the responsibilities of two FDA agencies, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM).

The FDA released a draft version of the document in late September 2011 and urged stakeholders to carefully review and comment on it. The FDA said it considered the submitted comments before issuing the final version.

In an introductory letter, Michael Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, wrote that expectations for the FDA are high, given last year's passage of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and the public's growing interest in nutrition information.

"Success in this environment requires a strategic plan to guide our hard work and keep us focused on the most important things we need to accomplish in order to fulfill our public health and consumer protection mandates," he wrote.

The new report outlines CFSAN and CVM vision and mission directives and sets out objectives for improving effectiveness and efficiency at all levels. For example, the plan requires an updated model for tracking performance measures and program outputs. It said the program "must be able to answer questions about where it is investing its resources and how these investments are improving animal health and public health and protecting consumers."

The strategic plan also outlines seven key program goals, which direct the centers to:

  • Establish science-based preventive control standards from farm to table
  • Achieve high compliance rates for preventive control standards at domestic and international levels
  • Strengthen science leadership, capacity, and partnerships to support decision making
  • Give consumers accurate and useful information for making healthier dietary choices
  • Encourage food produce reformulation and safe dietary supplement production
  • Improve foodborne illness outbreak and contamination detection and response
  • Advance animal drug safety and effectiveness

The FDA said that over the next 4 years the CFSAN and CVM will introduce new safety standards and practices targeted to preventing food and animal feed contamination, with input from industry to ensure effective implementation.

Goals also require updated nutrition labeling along with better information available for consumers at point-of-purchase settings, such as restaurants and vending machines. They also urge federal agencies to find new ways to promote a healthier food supply, such as reducing the sodium content of foods.

Some of the measures to improve response to foodborne illness outbreaks are to operationalize the Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Network, a multidisciplinary expert team working full time on outbreak prevention and response.

Strategies revolving around animal drugs include reducing the availability of poor quality or illegally marketed drugs and fostering the judicious use of antibiotics in food animals.

Reportable food registry
In related developments, the FDA on Apr 19 released the second annual report for its reportable food registry, a new system that helps it track food and feed adulteration patterns, better focus inspection resources, and prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. The new system was launched in September 2009, and the FDA released the registry's first review in January 2011.

The second food registry report covers its second year of operation, from Sep 8, 2010, through Sep 7, 2011. It includes 225 primary reports in 22 commodity categories, along with 483 subsequent and 174 amended reports. The top three hazards were the same as for the registry's first year: Salmonella (accounting for 38.2% of reports), undeclared allergens (33.3%), and Listeria monocytogenes (17.8%).

The FDA said the overall number of total submissions was higher the first year, mainly because of a flurry of subsequent reports related to undeclared sulfites in prepared side dishes, L monocytogenes in cheese spreads, and Salmonella in hydrolyzed vegetable protein. The agency said it's not possible to tell whether the first year results were high or the second year results were low.

The number of amended reports in the second year increased by 25%, which the FDA said suggests more facilities are informing the FDA about their investigations of problems and efforts to correct them. It said the number of produce-related reports nearly doubled the second year, due to a US Department of Agriculture sampling program to detect baseline contamination levels.

The FDA said the findings in the 28-page report are helping it spur efforts to improve prevention measures in the affected commodity areas and better target inspection and sampling activities.

See also:

Apr 23 FDA statement

FDA foods and veterinary medicine program strategic plan

Apr 19 FDA statement

Second annual FDA reportable food registry report

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